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Obama signs bill reauthorizing and adding provisions to the Violence Against Women Act of 1994

First signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been credited with helping reduce domestic violence by two-thirds. VAWA is a federal law aimed at ending violence against women. On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing VAWA for another five years. The reauthorization gives $659 million a year over five years for VAWA programs intended to help end violence against women. The bill also expanded protection for domestic violence victims.

New College Campus Provisions. One of the expansions of VAWA addresses the high rates of sexual and dating violence on college campuses. Colleges and Universities will now be required to provide to students information about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Additionally, colleges and universities will have to inform students and staff about the number of those types of crimes that happen on or near campus.

New Native American Provisions. Another expansion of VAWA recognizes the authority of tribes to prosecute domestic violence crimes perpetrated by Indians and non-Indians when the abuse was committee on tribal lands. This is a significant change because one of the highest rates of domestic violence is against Native American women.

LGBT Provisions. The expansion also protects Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic violence from discrimination. This change was in response to studies showing LGBT victims were having challenges accessing domestic violence services such as shelter. The new provisions give service providers new tools and resources to help make their services available to all victims.

Other Key Provisions. Other new provisions created grant programs focused on reducing the backlog of rape kits and working more effectively with teens and young adults to stop violence before it starts. For a more comprehensive list of the all the changes to VAWA visit http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/vawa-2013-sum.pdf.

For more information on the Violence Against Women Act and domestic violence, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.

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